Vladimir Putin sums up results of 2013 in 9th press conference

A week after the Russian president delivered his message to the Federal Assembly, the annual (the ninth) "big" televised press conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin started at the International Trade Center on December 19. The event began with a slight delay. Putin arrived in the hall only at 12:09 p.m.

The press conference does not imply any important announcements of. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there were no questions that could make Putin feel uncomfortable.

Traditionally, journalists ask Putin questions related to most discussed and urgent problems. Among the topics of today's press conference are the problems of banks and their "black lists," socio-economic issues, housing, medicine, education, amnesty, federal problems, foreign policy, relations with neighbors, the current situation in Ukraine and its relationship with Russia. Incidentally, the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych meets with Ukrainian journalists on December 19 as well.

As many as 1,319 media representatives have been accredited for the metropolitan International Trade Center to take part in the press conference. It is believed that journalists have about 1.5-2 hours for their questions, but Putin's press conferences traditionally last for not less than four hours.

A reporter from Ukrainian Agency UNIAN asked the Russian president how much Russia was ready to pay to Ukraine, so that the latter does not look in the direction of Europe. Putin responded that the enormous assistance provided by the Russian Federation to Ukraine was primarily dictated by the fact that the brotherly country found itself in a difficult financial and political situation.

" We often use phrases "brotherly country", "brotherly nation" ... The situation has emerged due to a number of objective reasons. And if we really say that this is our brotherly nation, then we should act as close relatives do and support the Ukrainian people in this difficult situation," said the president.

"I assure you that this is the main reason why we made ​​this decision," he said.

The President noted that the assistance to Ukraine was in no way connected either with recent events in Kiev or Ukraine's negotiations with the EU. Russia is not against the association of Ukraine and Europe, but Russia will be protecting its market, Putin said. 

"We do not mind the Association (EU-Ukraine) , we simply say that we will be forced to protect our economy. Because today's open gates of the free trade zone with Ukraine can not be left open if Ukraine opens its gates to the European Union," said the head of state.  "We will have to close them," he concluded.

According to the president of the Russian Federation, Ukrainian engineering industry will decline, as its products are mainly sold in Russia, and sales volumes of Ukraine's agricultural products can hardly grow in Europe.

Putin also said that the gas contract with Ukraine, concluded in 2009, under the government of Yulia Tymoshenko, was economically feasible, fair and the pricing formula was the same as for all consumers in Europe. " We also actively worked with the previous government of Ukraine that Tymoshenko headed. We worked very hard in all directions. It was her government that signed the gas contract. I thought and still think that this contract is economically feasible," said Putin.

Putin said that he was generally satisfied with the work of the Russian government.

"I believe the work of the government is generally satisfactory," Putin said, answering reporters' questions. He stressed that conditions in the economy were difficult.

"There are problematic numbers, but I think that the government's work is  satisfactory. It was a difficult year for global economy," Putin said.

According to him, the Russian economy kept the bar high at a time when the European economy "fell down and was in stagnation."

"But in general, I believe that the government's job was done quite professionally," the president said. The potential of the current government has  not been implemented yet. " The worst thing that can be is the personnel reshuffle," he said.

The president said that the decision on the deployment of Iskander complexes in the Kaliningrad region had not been finalized yet. "First, we have not made such a decision, let them calm down," he said. Putin noted that missile defense system was still posing a threat to the Russian nuclear arsenal and Russia would be reacting to it.

"Secondly, one does not have to defend anyone. One does not need to provoke anyone to retaliatory actions," the president warned.

He noted that the deployment of Iskander missile complexes in the Kaliningrad region was Russia's response to European missile defense, but it was not the only one move that Russia made at this point. Iskander is only an element of the possible response, and not the most efficient one. "Although in its category, this is the most effective weapon in the world," said the head of state.

Answering the question of who can be called Russian politician No.2 and whether Putin already had a successor, Putin said that Russia had "many politicians, very experienced people."

"I can name them, and you all are well aware of their names," said Putin. He listed all the leaders of Russian parties represented in the State Duma, noting that all of them - including Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Sergei Mironov and Dmitry Medvedev - are very serious, experienced politicians, whose parties receive millions of votes of Russian citizens.

Putin stressed out that he was familiar with various ratings. "But real life is more complicated than making these ratings. So I would not be so easy to treat this. "New people appear, they can be oppositional or not to the government. "Those who are opposed to authorities, try to bite of the main one, because it raises their rating, and this is a general rule of conduct for all opposition parties in the world," he said.

" It is a well-known trivial trick, but basically it is a correct one for the people who want to express themselves. They jump out of their pants and swear. But, the truth is they have to do it carefully, because, as they say, they can be left without their pants," Putin said. "It's good if there is something to look at, but if there is nothing to boast, it can be embarrassing - a career end," Putin joked.

As for successor, Putin did not name him, noting that it was not time to speak about it. "As for the successor, I have not said anything, because there is nothing to say," Putin said.

A journalist from LifeNews then asked whether Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, could become a successor. Putin called the question provocative and did not answer it. "This is a provocative question you're asking me, it suits the style of your publication," said Putin.

Putin said that he had never met former U.S. intelligence officer Edward Snowden, although he acknowledged that he thought of Snowden as a man,  who was able "to turn something " in people's minds.

"I think that thanks to Mr. Snowdenб a lot has been turned in the minds of millions of people, including major political figures of our time," said the president of the Russian Federation. 

Putin was also curious how the former employee of the U.S. NSA dared to publish secret information on the work of American intelligence. "He's a young man . What does he have? He has nothing. Where is he going to live? He has made such a choice for himself. This is noble, but very hard," said the head of state.

As for cooperation with Russian special services, they have never worked with Snowden, Putin said. "We do not pester him with all sorts of questions as to what was done in the Russian direction of his service," said the president. He reminded that the Russian authorities gave him an opportunity to live in Russia provided that he would not engage in anti-American propaganda. 

Answering the question from a journalist of RTVI satellite channel about Russia's relations with the United States and Germany after the scandal connected with Snowden's of materials Snowden, Putin said he believes that U.S. intelligence taps telephone conversations worldwide primarily with a view to combating terrorism.

"I'm not going to justify anyone, God forbid. Still, it is fair to say that all this is being done as part of the struggle against terrorism. These are anti-terrorist activities," said Putin.

Putin noted that such actions of secret services have negative constituents, of course, and one has to limit the appetites of security services.

"But in general, this is necessity. Why so many? Because it is necessary to track down not just a particular terrorist suspect, but a whole system of relations. Taking into consideration modern means of communication, it is almost impossible to do it if you spy on only one suspect," Putin said.

Putin has a positive attitude to all who protect nature, but treats negatively those, who make PR and personal enrichment from it.

Members of the crew of the Arctic Sunrise, who were accused of the attack on Prirazlomnaja oil rig, will be pardoned, although the amnesty document had not been formulated specifically to relieve them of liability.

"With regard to the fact that they can now be amnestied, and I understand that they can be, we are not doing it for them. I think that what happened should be a lesson to learn, and I hope we and Greenpeace can conduct positive work together," said the president.

A journalist of Novaya Gazeta asked the Russian president whether he believes that there were riots on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, and why amnesty was not applied to members of the so-called "Bolotnaya Case."

"You started with saying that the protesters had done nothing wrong, but there was force used against them. From this you conclude that they should be pardoned. The logic in your question is broken. It is only court that can decide whether there were offensive acts committed or not," Putin said. 

"It's not about who ripped off a shoulder strap from a police officer. But if we allow this way of treating law enforcement officials, it is easy to imagine a situation when, let's say, nationalists will take to the streets and start beating  representatives of the liberal intelligentsia. The latter will scream for help, but the police will refuse to help them, because the law will not protect them. This will lead to absolute chaos," Putin said.

Therefore, Putin believes it is correct that the defendants of the Bolotnaya Case are not going to be amnestied in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Constitution, because those people were accused of violent acts.

Putin believes it is normal that he discussed the participation of opposition activist Alexey Navalny in the election of the Moscow mayor. Putin does not see a threat to power in Navalny.

"If Navalny were a threat, he would not be allowed. I proceeded from the fact that all, who had chances to fight for the position of the mayor, had to do it. Of course, for those, who are little-known on the municipal level, it is hard to do it.

A Reuters journalist asked Putin about members of the infamous punk band Pussy Riot, who were sentenced for their punk prayer at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The journalist wondered whether Putin felt sorry for them as a father of two daughters of about the same age. Putin said that he was sorry for the girls, but only because they went down to the level of scandalous behavior that humiliated women's dignity in general.

Russian President considers U.S. sanctions against Iran counterproductive, but relies on the gradual process of resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. 

"With regard to the sanctions, I am convinced that this is a counterproductive solution," the head of state said at the press conference, commenting on the introduction of new Iranian companies on the " black list" of the United States. "It will not bring anything positive in terms of the nature of the final agreement to resolve the problem," he explained.

Putin once again outlined the principled position of the Russian Federation. "The Iranian people and the Iranian state should be provided with an opportunity to develop high technology, including in the nuclear field, of  peaceful nature, and the international community has no right to demand discriminatory restrictions from the country."


Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov